Remembering Victims of Holocaust: A Memorial for One or All?

29 Sep

As part of an address to British Jewish communities, former PM, David Cameron, pledged that the UK Government would fund a memorial in remembrance of the mainly Jewish victims of World War 2.

The memorial is to be sited in Victoria Tower Gardens, next to Parliament.

Since the announcement, plans for the memorial are now expected to include a learning centre, for school groups and visitors to London.

A competition was recently announced for the design of the memorial, including plans for the learning centre.

If it does not run over budget, the whole project is expected to cost around £50 million, largely paid for by the British taxpayer.

As noted in the Mirror, ‘UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation chairman, Sir Peter Bazalgette, said: “The task of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation was to find a site that would allow a striking, prominent and iconic memorial to be built.”‘

In effect, the memorial and learning centre, will become Britain’s answer to Auschwitz and the Anne Frank Museum.

Understandably, a number of individuals, including myself have voiced concerns. Some, rightly or wrongly, now consider it an industry.

For me, as I will explain, I do not believe that there has ever been only one holocaust, but that there have been many holocausts, of equal significance, and equal worthiness of commemorating the victims of.

Indeed, when I asked Olivia Marks-Woldman, CEO of the Holocaust Memorial Trust, ‘why can we not have a universal memorial and learning centre to remember all holocausts not just one?’

Her response was, because the ‘Holocaust’ was unique.’

(I’ve since emailed her to clarify this profound and exceptional differentiating statement, but I am yet to receive a response or acknowledgement).

 

Sorry, not sorry! No one event in our wretched histories that ‘qualifies’ as a holocaust/ genocide, is no less, or more unique or significant than any other similar event in history.

To imply that it (WWII) is deserving of  uniqueness, only serves to diminish the other (such catastrophic events, in our shared histories) and asserts privilege of one group of victims (of such events) and the suffering (and heinous acts committed against one group) over another.

As Jackie Walker, of the UK Labour party’s Momentum group recently noted — and was subsequently on the receiving end of a tremendous amount of unwarranted vitriol from Jewish media for stating — the term ‘Holocaust’ is not a term that is the preserve or monopoly of Jews alone (paraphrased).

Indeed. Jews were not the only victims of World War 2.

In case you do not know/ have forgotten, many members of Roma, Polish, Muslims, LGBT, and other communities were victims too.

Clearly, a £50 million memorial, solely for the remembrance of Jewish victims of World War 2, simply reinforces ideas of (Jewish) privilege and victimhood, thus reinforcing negative stereotypes and prejudicial resentment of Jews.

Here is a list of Holocausts in recent times:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocides_in_history

 

The term ‘Holocaust’ does not, nor has it ever done, belonged solely to members of the Jewish community.

The term ‘holocaust’  was only adopted as such, in the 1950’s, after World War 2.

(The term ‘Holocaust’, in its original meaning, refers to sacred burning or sacrifice.)

 

It was first used in terms of genocide by John Milton in the 17th century.

If we are to remember ALL our dead, at the hands of bastards, murderers, and maniacal dictators, and learn from such past atrocities, committed by and against humankind, what we should have, is one memorial, and one learning centre, to remember all victims of all holocaust and genocidal acts.

It is my view, that we should (all) universally unite in our mourning, condemnation, and determination to say: Never Again!

A very recent study I have conducted confirms that such a memorial should not be attributed to Jews alone.

Why?

Because it devalues and assigns all other victims of holocaust to second status.

 

 

By Jason Schumann

 

 

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